Now I'm working in the variety show. At the beginning, I danced with the other women.My appearances grew more and more frequent, and Pepita gradually pushed me to the front. THE BODY – that's how I'm advertised on the billboards, life-size, in each town we're passing by. Small white-and-blue stars shine on my nipples, which they stick to my skin with adhesive tape. I wear a sailor's bonnet and I salute when I sing.I sing in a low voice, stridently, whisperingly, swaying my hips.And I look like a famous movie star. Because now I'm blonde, and between my nose and my upper lip I draw a beauty spot. My mom signed a five-year contract with Pepita.If I'm discovered, we'll leave sooner.Pepita is in for trouble if she gives us away, because I'm a minor.Pepita wanted me to appear naked
on stage.But because I'm too little, they stick a triangle covered with hair between my thighs. That was my mom's idea.It looks natural, and I feel dressed.My mom sews my costumes, like she used to do for herself.I rehearse my routine with Vargas the choreographer. THE TELEPHONE is my best act.On the stage – a bed.In it – I, in a vaporous negligé. The telephone is ringing.With feline moves, I pick up the receiver, tell my name softly in it, as if singing, and I listen.OH!Slowly, almost imperceptibly,still in a singing voice,stroking my legs with the receiver, lifting my negligé.Whistles and squalls in the audience. I step down from the bed,dancing I come to the forestage.I hand out photos of myself.I let them touch my legs a little.Specially for this act, Pepita had ten thousand tickets printed with my photo on them. My mom always waits for me in the wings with a robe.My daughter is still a virgin, for that's my will!When she says THAT'S, she clenches her fist and smiles. She never misses a chance to say that I'm still a child, and that she rescued me from this film producer who wanted to rape me. Since that incident, mother has grown several layers of skin. Each layer of skin seems to belong to a different woman. No man has ever touched me in that spot. There is nothing else I can think of. I want to be raped by two at the same time. I play in two magic numbers, but with a genuine illusionist from Paris. In one, I am in a cupboard, the door is closed, my face, hands and legs remain visible. Then he thrusts a few swords in the wooden sides. At the end he takes out the middle piece of the cupboard, like a drawer. The second time, Mary Mistral and I come on stage and lie in a box on wheels. Our heads, hands and legs remain visible. We are cut in two with a saw, moved around the stage, and reassembled. When we curtsy for applause, each has the other one's feet. It will take my mother's husband a lot of practice before being capable of doing these tricks.My mom thinks Pepita will hire him.Although he is only a few years older than me, and now it's me who earns the money for the three of us, he treats me like a child.I heard him tell another man who was asking about me that I'm his daughter. I guess he's kinda wacky! He's always doing foolish things, and he drinks so much beer, as if he had to irrigate an entire cornfield inside of him.Mary Mistral's mother is very old and stingy. She mended her ruined boots with wire.What on earth is she doing with all the money her daughter is earning?Mary Mistral doesn't look like she has a husband, nor any children, although it's been a long time since she's old enough for that. In twenty years from now, I'll still be younger than she is now.I'll die young.Mary Mistral told me about the end of the world.She is faithful, Jesus Christ is hanging on her mirror. Before the show, she kisses him, crosses herself, kisses her finger, and runs it through her pubic hair. My mother crossing herself before going into the circus arena, that I can understand; but what could possibly happen to Mary Mistral?I do not cross myself. Mary Mistral claims that Jesus Christ is the best lover; all she had to do under the shower was close her eyes and let him. Jesus Christ knows best what a woman needs, she says that when you keep the showerhead down there, the Holy Ghost comes and makes you happy. It started on an afternoon in front of the TV.My mother, her husband and the woman turned in.The boys were sitting on the floor in front of us, the man and I on the sofa.He suddenly unzipped his pants, took his thing in his hand and started rubbing until a white juice spurted out of it. I dared not move.The man put his finger on my lips.Lick it, he said. One day he brought me presents, a tennis skirt and tennis shoes.My mom said that I couldn't play tennis and that it wasn't worth starting to learn, because we were going to leave soon anyway.The man insisted to take me with him.The fact that the boys would accompany us sort of reassured my mother. Anyhow, she insisted for her husband to go with us too.Let them go, he intervened, she's old enough to take care of herself.My daughter's still a virgin, my mother told the boys threateningly, don't you take your eyes off her! On the tennis court, the man got rid of his boys from the very first day.Then he asked me if I wanted to go with him to the locker room.I nodded.We locked ourselves in the toilet.Unzip my trousers.I felt his underpants, swollen and wet.Have you ever done this?I said no.Take my member and do whatever you please, said the man.I looked at his underpants, but I dared not put my hand.You can put it in your mouth. The name of the man is Armando. My mom too once had a man called Armando. He too was married.Why does this make her mad at me?My mom's Armando was the owner of a nightclub in Paris.My parents and my aunt performed there.Above the joint, he had a big apartment, with long mirror-walled corridors, like a cabinet in which you were reflected from all sides. We were living on the camping ground, in a wagon. My dad wouldn't let mom go out alone, so she used to take me with her to Armando's. On the way, she would buy me a Mickey Mouse notebook and sweets. She took me to a room that looked like a doctor's waiting room. Smiling, she told me that I could sit on the sofa, I could read or sleep, it's nice in here, isn't it, and Armando would be very glad that I'm here, and they're going to have a little discussion about something important. Her eyes glowed like pickled onions.While I was waiting, I punched holes into Mickey Mouse's eyes, first the right, then the left.When I was done, I started to walk about the room.I ate all the sweets.My heart was pounding in my head.It was getting dark outside.It had started snowing in the room.The sofa froze.The walls froze.My hands and feet froze.My eyes.The snow covered me. Written in German (the Romanian translation is owed to Nora Iuga), Aglaja Veteranyi
's (1962-2002) debut novel was a hit in Germany and Switzerland, where the former circus, and experimental theater artist, lived. "I believe that we are all 'abroad' in this world. That is why the book I wrote is not a 'history', a story about the circus or about Romania, but a story about people most of all," she declared in an interview by Rodica Bindea, reminiscing all her exotic life as a traveling artist. Before committing suicide, she completed a second novel.
by Aglaja Veteranyi (1962-2002)